ESEA Reauthorization: Where are we headed?
The Obama Administration has released its “blueprint” for ESEA reauthorization. What’s in it? This article summarizes some of the major concepts.

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Common Core State Standards
Aim is to provide rigor, consistency

A move toward common core standards among the states continues to inch forward. Last month, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers released a draft of K-12 standards for English language arts and math.

South Dakota is one of 51 states, territories and the District of Columbia that have been working to develop common standards in English-language arts and math. The standards are benchmarked to international standards to guarantee that the nation’s students are competitive in the global marketplace.

“We like the concept of providing a clear set of expectations for students that’s consistent from one state to the next,” said Secretary of Education Tom Oster. “Math and reading skills should be the same no matter if you live in South Dakota or South Carolina.”

“As I understand it, states will be asked to adopt the standards as a package, but then we’ll have the option to work in any state-specific concepts that we think need to be addressed,” he said.

That said, Oster noted that South Dakota won’t make any final decisions until the draft standards have been completely ironed out.

Becky Nelson, a team leader with the Department of Education, has been involved in analyzing the proposed standards and comparing them to existing state standards. Overall, she says the standards are fairly comparable, particularly in the area of English language arts.

Last summer, the department had initiated a work group of math teachers to begin revising existing state math standards. That group’s work was put on hold when the Common Core State Standards Initiative came about.

“The proposed math concepts actually align well with the recommendations of that work group,” Nelson said.

She also noted that in both English and math, the proposed Common Core Standards seem to be “pushing down” particular concepts into the earlier grades.

Following the release of the draft standards, the South Dakota Department of Education hosted Webinars to gather feedback from teachers of English language arts and math. That feedback will be forwarded on to the national level.

The National Governors Association and the Chief Council of State School Officers are the two organizations that have been heading up this effort on behalf of the states.

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